Should you go into the Cloud?

13 maart 2019

As regional airports become more reliant on unlocking and sharing data with partners on the airfield, IT infrastructure becomes increasingly more important. A lot of airports are using on-premises solutions at the moment, but operation managers need to start contemplating: is this still the way forward?

Although aviation portraits to be one of the most innovative industries, we still see a huge reliance on legacy practises and technologies. One of the main thoughts is that ‘everything needs to be in reach; we do not want to be dependent on others’. That is why we often see that airports work with local servers for the storage and processing of the data. Not only can this be cost ineffective, but also it can slow down the development and growth of regional airports. Operating local servers require a lot of technical expertise and maintenance of those servers as well as a strict backup regime and the necessary infrastructure to do that. This can carry quite a bit of ‘hidden’ costs.

Cloud solutions and / or SaaS-solutions

A way of reducing costs is by thinking about Cloud solutions or Software as a Service (SaaS) – solutions. With these solutions, airports are no longer required to maintain local servers, because all the data is processed and stored on secure online servers, reducing longer-term costs as well as the need to have personnel dedicated to the infrastructure, that have to be on standby 24/7. These resources can be allocated somewhere else. These new solutions are also able to scale easily and it makes it easier to share data with partners on the airport. Both Cloud- or SaaS- solutions have high security standards, with regular penetration testing done by hosting providers and experts continuously working on securing servers and connections. Furthermore, investments are predictable and spread over time.

With Cloud solutions, airports have their servers hosted by specialised cloud providers. Software suppliers have access to the system for updates and maintenance of their software while the cloud provider maintains the platform. Although Cloud solutions already offer significant benefits over on-premises solutions when it comes to scalability, security and financial planning, they still require an IT-team that coordinates between the software vendor and the hosting company. And more importantly: the airport is required to purchase a license from the software vendor up-front.

With a SaaS – solution, such as is available with our Airlink system, the disadvantages of a cloud solution diminish. SaaS is software that is owned, delivered and managed remotely by a provider. The provider delivers software based on a pay-for-use basis or as a subscription based on use metrics. Basically, SaaS is leased software, maintained by its creators, not hosted on your premises and runs in the cloud. Under the SaaS model, since the software is hosted by the supplier, they take on the responsibility for maintaining the software and upgrading it, ensuring that it is reliable and meeting agreed-upon service level agreements, as well as keeping the application and its data secure. You pay ‘as you go’ and the software supplier takes all the work off your hands.

Staying online?

One of the major objections by airports to going into the cloud is connectivity. ‘What if the Internet is down? Then I will not have access and operations come to a halt.’ With the use of multiple redundant Internet connections and wireless 4G backup networks, you can significantly reduce the risks. Combined with the appropriate emergency procedures, the risks can be mitigated to acceptable levels. In our opinion, the risk of downtime is equal for on-premises, cloud and SAAS solutions, only the sources of risk differ.

For airports to be cost effective, they do not only need to look at their operations and processes, but also at the IT infrastructure. Legacy solutions sound safe and familiar, but can increase costs and slow down growth. Cloud solutions and SaaS solutions both might be more cost effective and more likely to be ready to scale when needed, anticipating growth. But as with anything, every airport is unique and there is no general optimal solution!

At Adecs we can help you make your decision about which solution fits your operation the best. If you want to know more about this, contact us.

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